By Mark Tooley
The United Methodist General Conference often operates under one sided rules of an odd form of hyper political correctness. During the May 2 debate of Israeli settlements and anti-Israel divestment, the Rev. Robert Earl Long of Oklahoma, in opposing stances that exclusively fault Israel, said: “Of course we care about the Palestinians and what they have gone through—the loss of land, the loss of homes, the wall. But we also care for the people of Israel and what they too have gone through. A small, radical, fringe, terrorist Palestinian group who is set on their destruction and resorts to suicide bombing.”
Long seemingly was citing Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that disputes Israel’s right to exist. But he had not even named Hamas and was unable to proceed because presiding liberal Bishop Warren Brown of California-Nevada interrupted to chide him: “Just remind the speaker that the body has adopted a rule to avoid personal attacks of persons. OK? So please continue.”
So even to imply criticism of Hamas is an unacceptable “personal attack?”
Meanwhile, a delegate from a very different position likened Israel and its supporters to firms that helped Nazi Germany conduct the Holocaust. Bishop Brown evidently had no objection. Margaret Mary Novak of the Yellowstone Conference in the U.S. West, while urging anti-Israel divestment, suggested: “I would just ask us all to imagine that we were United Methodists in the 1930s and ’40s, that our Board of Pensions held stock in the very successful manufacturing firms in Germany that bid and received the bids to manufacture the ovens for the concentration camps. At what point would we decide it was time to divest? How much evidence would we ask for before it was time to stop the wholesale destruction of people?”
Bishop Brown merely reacted by asking Novak whether her Nazi comparison was a “speech for or against” the divestment proposal. Nice.